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tv   Melissa Harris- Perry  MSNBC  March 2, 2013 7:00am-9:00am PST

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this morning my question, what in the world was justice scalia talking about? and just thinks that people are making out like bandits. and once again, congress plays lucy to the american people's charlie brown. good grief. good morning, i'm melissa harris-perry, and today, it is saturday march 2nd. remember last saturday when i said that in less than a week $85 billion of automatic spending cuts would begin to take effect, and spending cuts that no one wants and leaving americans to take furloughs or job layoffs? well, happy sequester day, because the sequester is here,
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and it looks like it is here to stay, because even though the congressional leadership met with president obama at the white house yesterday morning, nothing came of it. both camps came out with the same talking points they had when they started the meeting. republican house speaker john boehner moseyed on out of the white house with the same ole same ole to offer. >> make it clear that the president got the tax hikes on january 1st. there is a discussion about the revenue in my view is over. it is about taking on the spending problem here in washington. >> and even though he heard it all before, president obama gave some of the republican delegation the benefit of the doubt yesterday. >> i do know that there are republicans in congress who privately at least say that they would rather close tax loopholes than let these cuts go through. i know that there are democrats who would rather do smart entitlement reform rather than
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let the cuts go through, so there is a caucus of commonsense up there on capitol hill, but it is a silent group right now. >> of course, we are well past common sense. if we have learned nothing else from the debt deal showdown, the fiscal cliff and now the sequester, it is that putting together a fiscal plan for one of the largest economies in the world apparently has nothing to do with common sense, because here is common sense. common sense tells you that when someone holds out a football, you kick it. when they pull it away just as you are about to swing the leg, you might be a little bit more cautious the next time they hold the ball out for you, but we, the people, each have a little bit of the charlie brown optimism in us, so we say, hey, okay, let's take another shot, but when once again we are about to kick the ball, they snatch it away. it is safe to say that we are never going to get to kick the ball down the field. let's not forget that the
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sequester, itself, was the punt of the punt from the original punt in the 2011 when congress and the white house finally made a so-called deal on the debt ceiling, and as the president reminded us yesterday, none of this was even necessary. >> we are here for american families who had been getting battered pretty good over the last four years and just starting to see the economy improve, and businesses just starting to see some confidence coming back, and, you know, this is not a win for anybody. this is a loss for the american people. >> so see that is the conventional wisdom here, that just this week there were several signs that the economy was continuing to recovery, and a revised estimate by the u.s. commerce department that showed that the economy expanded slightly in the fourth quarter last year, and we learned that the number of americans seeking unemployment benefits fell by 22,000 and the dollar gained strength, but of course, the
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longer the sequester lasts the longer the gains could be rolled back. that is the common sense approach to politics. that is the rationale that makes you think that in a deliberative democracy that opposing parties could be convinced by the process of sharing information and exchanging data and listening to one another's argument, but the only argument that sways toward cooperation is if the position is a political liability, that good old fear of losing their jobs. but it looks like even though the political leaders packed up and went home this week without doing their jobs, it looks like we are the hardworking charlie browns in this country, because we are going to end up on our butts. with me is amy walter, senior editor of the cook political report, and tom shapiro, director of the institute of assets and social policy at brandeis university, and heather mcgee, advicer of public policy
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and and ed ppakskey, because he brings doughnuts and is our favorite mayor. >> yes. >> and we are talking about everything across the board and every single thing is going to be cut and not with any reason, but just because we manufactured a crisis. amy? >> yes, we are good alt manufacturing the crisis. >> why? why? >> i appreciate when the president came out to say, there is a silent caucus of reasonable people up here. actually, there aren't. there are not reasonable people. >> they are not just silent, they are just not there. >> they are gone. they used to exist ten years ago and there were democrats who would vote who were moderates, and there were republicans who were moderate and over the last
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few years starting in 2006 and then going through the redistricting of 2011, they are gone. 96% of democrats sit in districts that barack obama won. 94% of the republicans sit in districts that mitt romney won. there is zero incentive for them to work on the other side. why would they do that? they are saying that the constituents are telling them to stay strong, and they are not lying, because the constituents look like the party they represent. >> well, there is a point when the constituents want something to be done. i want to listen to the president, and at one point the reporter asked him a question, and asked him, can you actually sequester congress and make them sit in a room unthil is doil al is done. and this is the president's response. >> couldn't you just have them all down here and leave them in the room until you have a deal? >> well, you know -- i mean,
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jessica, i am not a dictator. i am a president. so ultimately if mitch mcconnell and john boehner say that we need to go to catch a plane, i can't have secret service block the doorway. >> okay. heal heather, i get that, but i mean, i change flights, and we are talking about $75 and $100 fee to change the flight, and the president has his own plane that he could lend to the speaker, and are you saying it is fine to say, i have to get on the plane, and at what point must they do the jobs? >> the problem here is that you are right, amy, it is true that the districts are really polarized, but what has happened is that it is not left/right issue as washington issue, because even the republicans in the republican districts want balanced approaches, and want tax increases as well on the wealthy and closing the corporate loopholes and this is a common sense thing that even the republican base wants burk
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when you the beltway bubble which is surrounded by thousands of lobbyists and the donor class setting the agenda, the real division is between washington and us, and not the democrats and the republicans. >> and rick scott, the republican of florida said this, and i want to listen to this, and then, tom, i will have you respond to this. well, we don't have him saying it so i will say it. this is rick scott saying that the impacts on florida's military installations and defense industries will be severe under sequestration, and our immediate concerns include dramatic reduction to the national guard which tlent thre our ability to respond to wildfires this spring and hurricanes in the fall. so this is a real. >> well, we all hope that the nation's business is more important than doing another chicken dinner on saturday afternoon somewhere else. but the governor starts to hit at what many people think will be the impact down the road that
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might change some of the balance on this, and that is as the cuts start to hit real people in their real lives, and they start to respond. i mean, we are seeing both very, very painful kinds of hits with this sequester. those are the ones that the governor and others talk about, but i'm concerned about the invest. to future, so it is not just about what we don't have tomorrow, but it is about the nation and the families and the children will not have in the next two the three years. >> and those effects are cumulative and the dramatic impact at the moment, and it is cumulative and so let's look at the sequester cuts are, and respond, mayor. we are looking at more than a 1 million federal workers going on the furlough, and 800,000 defense department furloughs, and 70,000 students cut from head start, and 10,000 teachers cut, and 9.4 cut to unemployment
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benefits, so we are getting a body blow to the economy that is starting to recover. >> yes, it is estimated just in pennsylvania $11 million wages lost in the short term, and over $53 million if this goes on in the next year. it is real money in real people's pockets that are helping to fund our economy. so it is going to have some real life impacts. for cities, it is devastating. we are struggling and stretched to the breaking point because of all of the other cuts that congress has made and many of the programs that are going to be cut are going to affect cities disproportionately where a majority of the revenue is generated for the economies nationwide, and u, you know, everything from education to, you know, housing for the homeless to flu shots. i was talking to my health director and we will have to turn over 1,000 kids from flu shots in a season that flu has
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had an enormous impact on us. >> and even more lost wages. with we want to stay on the topic of the real life experience, because here we are once again and i feel like charlie brown and i keep saying, okay, it is going to be better, and then every time seeing that football yanked away. so now when we come back, we are going to the beltway to talk about the issues that is real people suffering because of washington's dysfunction. hey, it's sara. i'm going pro. i've been using crest pro-health for a week. my dentist said it was gonna help transform my mouth. [ male announcer ] go pro. for a clean that's up to four times better, try these crest pro-health products together. [ sara ] i've been using crest pro-health. so feels different. [ male announcer ] crest pro-health protects not just some, but all these areas dentists check most. my mouth feels healthier. it feels cleaner. i think my dentist is gonna see the difference. [ male announcer ] go pro with crest pro-health. i don't think i'll ever go back to another product. see. [ male announcer ] go pro with crest pro-health. you know it can be hard to lbreathe, and how that feels.e,
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all of this will cause a ripple effect throughout our economy. layoffs and pay cuts means that people have less money in their pockets, and that means that they have less money to spend at local businesses, and that means lower profits, fewer hires. >> quite straight forward as the
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president made clear on friday that the sequester means less money in american people's pockets and the ripple effects of the cuts will be strongly felt at the state and the local level and the impact on one state, pennsylvania, will be millions upon millions and almost $48 million less in education funding and putting 360 teacher and teacher aide jobs at risk, and between 60 and 90 million in hud and housing lost to sequester. to bring some perspective to the huge figures the mayor of allentown pennsylvania who brought doughnuts an brought them today and there they are in the control room, because i am not eat iing the doughnuts, but the producers are, and look, we love you because you bring the doughnuts, but you also bring us the sense of what all of this means to ordinary people on the ground, when we look at the sequester cuts of the state budgets, and the state budgets, and $1.3 billion including $1
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billion to special education, and wic which is women and infant and children program which is $550 million cut, and also $15 billion decrease in the army, and $11 billion from the navy and $7.7 billion from the air force. >> for us in allentown, it is going to be significant. like i said before the break, we have flu shots and we are estimating 5,000 kids in pennsylvania will not be p aebl to get flu shots, because of the funds cut for health and human services. meals on wheels, because of the nutrition programs and the se seniors have to go out the fend for themselves. it is just basic. >> and more will go hungry. >> yes, go hungry. >> and school funding $1.8 in allentown and 100 kids not going
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to head start, and it is real life commitments and devastating over the long term, and the cities are struggling from all of the cuts that have been made in congress. this is only going to make matters worse. i mean, millions upon millions upon millions of dollars in pennsylvania alone not going back into the economy, how does this help us? >> well, that is the question. how would this help? the one that i think that just -- i am just beside myself today, but the fact that we are already reducing the debt is the part that is really sticking to me. the fact that we are already seeing over a reduction of the debt that we are not in a debt crisis and not only manufactured crisis, but the reason for the manufactured crisis is also manufactured. how is this sort of set of false information so widely available that people believe that we have to make these kinds of cuts? >> so two things. first is lucy analogy. there is not a level of optimism, but there is also a
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fatigue out there, and you go on the talk about the cuts and the president talks about the cuts and how devastating it is going to be, and the public says, i am tired of it, and you say it every couple of weeks and what to believe, and that is why the public is not as engaged as the president thought they would be. >> and also the name sequester does not help. it is a bad name. >> armageddon needs to be in there somewhere. >> yes, march 1 is armageddon might have been better. >> yes, a focus groups of moms in kansas city and a lot of them in the same boat struggling economically, and they don't care, because the deficit is nothing of concern to them. they talk about the day-to-day live lives and how much it costs to fill up the gas tank, and i wrote about it the other day, one woman said, that i need to understand that people in washington understand my day-to-day life and not all of
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this ideological battle, because it is not going to pay for braces. >> well, tom, we had an election and people did make a choice between with the different possibilities, and they picked the guy in the senate and the congress and even though we tried to keep it that way, they voted for the people to raise the taxes on the rich and not make major cutts. >> so we had a national election where some of the issues were in fact before us, and we had a conversation, and debate and people went to the polls and we made a decision as a nation. but wait a minute, sequester. a fancy word for let's redo the priorities and meet behind the doors and have a forced, a forced set of cuts today that become the structure tomorrow. i want the dig down on one little fact here. we are talk abhousing in terms of money. the translation is that about 125,000 families that currently have housing choice vouchers are going to lose them.
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and half of those families have a member that is either a person with disabilities or is elderly, and as a policy choice, i would like people to raise their hands if they think that is a good priority to make that kind of cut. >> that we will cut and balance this deficit that we are bringing down and doing it on the backs of those with disabilities and with the elderly. >> that is right. >> when i come back, i want to give you this more amy, because i want to ask you next not only what is going to happen next, but what happened to the outrage about the inequality that was part of the discourse that brought us to the election where i thought that we had made a choice about that, and in fact, we will talk about the one, the one thing that could save us, god. here we come. think ju etting rid of dark spots will restore even skin tone? think again. introducing olay professional even skin tone.
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. as we anticipate an across the board set of budget cuts becoming law in our land, we still expect to see your goodness prevail. rise up, oh, god, and save us from ourselves. >> good grief! even the senate chaplain is blaming the country on the manmade disaster and not the firstle time he has made that point. and remember the last self-inflicted crisis a month ago. >> as we gather with so much work left undone, guide our lawmakers with your wisdom. look with favor on our nation and save us from self-inflicted wounds. >> that is sad that we have to
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keep praying, lord, keep us from ourselves. >> well, this guy is great. >> save us from ourselves. >> it is not save us from ourselves, but save frus the -- from the decisions made by a small group of people who have made decisions for the vast majority of the country, and we have to frankly remember why we are in this pickle at all because of a level of debt and deficit brought to us not by the president and not by someone who was elected in 2008, but the biggest four drivers of the fiscal problems that they are the two wars paid for on a credit card, and the bush tax cuts and then of course the financial crisis which was brought to you by a conservative economic ideology and the deregulation of wall street. >> yes, somehow that is lost. occupy wall street gave us a moment when we were focusing on that, but now somehow the de deficit is causal for economic problems rather than the other way around. >> yes, in fact, when the solution is economic growth,
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fairly distributed economic growth, and more jobs from the growth of the bottom up, and the myle-out, that is well within the power of the american government to do. even the americans jobs act and what the president spoke about in the inaugural address, universal pre-k, and money to give to communities to refurbish schools that are going to target the most badly hit school, and these are things to get us out of the hole, but we are not doing it because of political malpractice. >> and is that why? we are hearing heather say, if we were dealing with these, then we could talk about raising the minimum wage and addressing income inequality, and is the reason we are doing this to prevent doing that? >> well, we are talking about this so we don't have to do those things. the president won the election and wanted to do certain things in the next four years and made
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it clear on election night, and the inaugural speech, and now we have gone from that to potentially averted the government shutdown which is the one thing they have agreed to, and we have a debt ceiling fight and another budget cut coming up. so we will be caught up until may. and if these cuts start hitting and people are complaining, they have to figure out how the reel it back in, so we will spend time on it, and we are not spending time on the immigration, and things are demoted in front of us immigration reform or gun control, and those are the two things sitting on the back seat, and the thing is that with have we poisoned the well so smumuch with the lawmakers that we get nothing done. last congress was the least productive congress in the history of congress, and that is hard to do. >> well, it has to be hard to do nothing, because you never know when you are done, right? >> we are still doing nothing. it is almost like save us from amnesia, because we continually keep forgetting like you talked
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about the dialogue. only a few months ago we had the dialogue, and it is like every other day, they have a case of amnesia where they talk about what was happening before. >> and in is charlie brown and we know since 1952 that lucy is going to take the ball away and yet here comes charlie. that is my concern if we start to see the government as lucy, do we not even think it is capable of doing things that it can? this is part of the work, tom, that the government has been in fact extraordinary good in crafting a middle-class, and creating a set of policies that could put america pack to right as it once did, but if we have lost the faith in our ability to do that collectively, then we end up with these petty bites instead. >> well, part of it is because the government has stopped doing that and the policies around housing, around education, and around the entire wealth of the middle-class i would make the case, we have withdrawn from that.
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we have shift ed ted the ball f private investment to safety ladders and safety nets. >> and this when the president said he needed a jedi mind meld which is wrong, because of the "star trek" and "star wars" and you were like, yes, a jedi star meld, because we needed to communicate and that in fact what is happening in washington is not responding to need of ordinary people. so, up next, it is that time of the show when i send my weekly letter to somebody, and usually somebody who said something that needs a response. any guess who that might have been this week. this is john lewis sending up a little bit of a letter himself this week. >> it is an affront to all of the civil rights stood for, people died for and people bled
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on wednesday the supreme court heard arguments that could be be the end of a key provision of the united states voting rights act a. at the heart of the case is whether states with a long history of racial discrimination mustt get permission from the justice department before changing their voting laws. now, in comments that made lawyers gasp when they were listening at the court, justin antonin scalia made no pause in
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his comments. so justice scalia, there is nothing to come as a surprise, because you are so predictable to come in line with your decisions of the most conservative and we know that unlike your friend clarence thomas who has a permanent mute button on, you will have an opinion influenced by your political agenda, but even with that, what you said in the oral arguments wednesday came as a shock. you said quote, i don't think that it is attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. i think it is attributable, and very likely attributable to a phenomenon called eperpetuation of racial entitlement. you went on the is a that i'm fairly confident that it will be
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reenacted in perpetuity, and this is a question that you cannot leave to congress. racial entitlement not a question that you can leave for congress! en for you, justice scalia, this is a will fful misreading of th constitution that you adore. so take a look at the awe guts docume document, and right here in section 5 of the 14th amendment and again in section 2 of the 15th amendment, isn't that the same entitlement, a congressional entitlement that says that the congress shall have power to enforce by approapriate legislation the provisions of this article. so they have the equal protection and the franchise for american citizens and especially when the citizens live in the former confederate state. in fact, the 14th amendment spends sections 2, 3, 4 spelling out precisely how the states who were involved in insurrection
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and rebellion will be treated differently, because thee were state where is the economies and cultures rested on the intergenerational chattel bondage of human being. they were so determined to keep holding human beings in slavery that they got together in armed rebellion against our country. sop of those same states, and more than 150 years later are still trying to pass laws that would deny the rights to vote for the very people that deny the voting rights act, and that people in section five would vote. excuse me, antonin, i'm dismayed that you describe the rights of citizenship racial entitlement. contrary to what you are suggesting the voting act was not a gift to the black people, but a right already enshrined in the constitution and repeatedly flouted by the southern governments, and here is what you missed, scalia, a great thing occurred in the 1860 whenz
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congress had to grapple with how to include the fully enslaved within the circle of citizenship which led congress to articulate due process, and equal protection, and those pillars of citizenship apply to everyone. the opposite of a special entitlement, but the constitution was not enough, and made congress over 100 years to make those practices a reality for all. so justice scalia when you spew that entitlement discourse from the bench, you undermine the core of our democracy, but i will still say thank you, because wednesday, you smoeed us exactly who you are, nand the words of the late great poet the great b.i.g., if we didn't know, now we know. s sincerely, melissa. [ rosa ] i'm rosa and i quit smoking with chantix.
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perhaps just as disturbing as justice antonin scalia's arguments was what justice clarence thomas had to say. yeah, that is right, folks, in a case that may leave the voting rights of millions of people of color unprotected the lone african-american man on the court said nothing. but that was certainly not the case for chief justice john roberts who asked this. >> it is possible that the citizens in the south are more racist than the citizens in the north? >> and he also made this oobservation earlier. >> which state has the greatest disparity in registration between white and african-american? well sh well, first is massachusetts and third in mississippi where the african-american registration is high near on the white registration rate. >> it seems like john roberts
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made a hell of a compelling case for tex tension to the voting rights act to the state of massachusetts. we go to the bridge in selma, alabama, where is the sight of bloody sunday where people were marching in 1965 and brutally beaten by the police. we are joined by the council of the legal defense fund chairman cherilyn. >> is that a reasonable argument that it is not more racist in the south? >> no, it is not a reasonable argument, and it is shocking to hear from the courtroom, because it is a one of the most es assee
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were sitting there as people there in alabama can tell you about the struggle there and how white power has tried to take control of the district for decades, so to hear that statement was shock iing. listening to you recount it hearing it here as i am at the foot of the edmond pettis bridge, the site of the march of 1965 made the statements more disturbing. john lewis got it right that it was a not a front. i wrote about it, and you ccan find my gap about it. there was a gasp when justice scalia made his comments, and it felt like a slap with a 1,500-page document that congress has concluded. it does not matter at the end of the day what chief roberts
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thinks is the nature of racial discrimination in 2013 or what justice scalia or jus ti sotomayor thinks, but the question is what did congress have and did they have a basis? they can't ignore the record that congress had over a year representing the ongoing racial discrimination throughout this country. >> i want to pause there for a moment. in case people have missed this, when the 1965 voting rights act was reauthorized in 2006 it was with overwhelming unanimous support including a 98-0 vote in the u.s. senate, and that means therefore all of the senators in the states that are covered by a preclearance. >> well, that is what got justice scalia so agitated, because he suggested that it was a unanimous vote in the senate must mean it is the perpetuation of racial entitlement and hard to reverse that once it happens.
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it is interesting because justice scalia's confirmation vote was 98-0 in the senate. so he was using the fact that we have wonderful progress that we have that even the senators covered by section 5 have the need for the ongoing clearance process. so he went on the say this is must mean a racial entitlement and we as the court must step in, because we cannot trust congress. it was extraordinary statement and i would be surprised if a majority of the supreme court justices want to line up with that statement. >> stay with us cherilyn, because it would be interesting if we can say that the comments of justice scalia were clearly racist. we will keep cherilyn with us. she can tell you about straight talk. sure! you get unlimited talk, text and data for only $45 a month per phone.
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we won't know the fate of the voting rights act until june, because that is when the
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supreme court is set to deliver a decision. at stake is the preclearance entitlement which requires all states to get permission from the justice department before any changes are made to the election law, and the court must require if that requirement is still required and it is timely because it was used to vote voter i.d. laws in texas and south carolina and two states covered by the preclearance. joining us is cherilyn from the ncaa legal defense fund, and so it seemed that the fact that we are hearing this at this moment is shocking, because it was an issue in this election. >> absolutely. it is really ironic, because we have had in the past election more americans realizing the
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lengths that the politics will go the shape the electorate. and the fact is that just because the american legislative exchange council and the corporate-backed lobbying -- >> alec. >> yes, legislative group was able to import what had been essentially mostly a southern tactic of voter i.d. laws across the country in a blitzkrieg fashion in 2010 and 2011 does not mean and now it is in pennsylvania and now it is in wisconsin and plays that are not covered by the voting rights a act. that does not mean that it is suddenly unconstitutional for us to protect the voting rights of millions of americans. >> part of the reason i wanted you at the table, mayor, is that they are not wrong, the justices when they mention that pennsylvania for example, ohio ho, and states not covered by the preclearance were particularly egregious in this particular election. >> absolutely. we had a voter i.d. law that would have disfranchised 750,000 e folks and most of the minority folks and the elderly.
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we are still fighting that. the courts have still not totally decided that issue. now, there is another attack on the ability to vote and take away the electoral college vote which would divide it up in congressional districts which is so ridiculous gerrymandered that it is impacting on the individual's right to vote, and i have a district going from allentown to the middle of the state that snakes around like a big snake and looks like a question mark. >> and in is to extend section 5 rather than pull it back? >> yes, we need more scrutiny and not less. >> so more people would need it precleared. i want to listen to justice sotomayor, and unfortunately we have been listen so much to scalia and roberts. so she says, may i ask you a
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question, and let's listen to that. >> may i ask you a question, assuming that i assume the premise and there is some question about it, that some portions of the south have changed, your county pretty much hasn't. >> no. >> and in the period we are talking about it has many more discriminating and 240 discriminatory voting laws that were blocked by section 5 objections. there were numerous section 2 hem ri did the section 2 litigation, and you may be the wrong party bringing this. >> and she laid it out there, maybe race is better, but not where you live, my friend. >> that is the beginning of the argument and set the tone. obviously, she has read the record that congress has amassed. the great story, melissa, is that people are fighting back and people recognize the importance of voting rights, and the supreme court said that
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right is preservative of all rights. and the organizers down here are expecting thousands of people to march and march in the reenactment of the bridge. this is history present for people not only in alabama, but acro across the country who come down here for the march. so for that case made, we are optimistic it will be done, because congress a amased a record and they know what is happening with the cities and the towns voting across the country, and i hope that people are going to stay tune and watch what unfolds in alabama as the americans reinforce their right to vote and really take it to the streets. >> heather, is that part of what we are are seeing here? people are more aware of the voting rights act or section 5, but that is that real pressure on the justices? >> i hope so.
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it is true that we have seen the supreme court that was the body of the politic that was actually able to uphold the constitutional rights of the 14th and the 15th amendment and gave us "brown v. board" and we have had this idea that the supreme court gives us the voting laws, and that is the part of the government to en shrine them first and most protective of the right from the tyranny of the majority, and yet, we are seeing that the court is the most reactionary, and one of the greatest threats to civil rights in our time is the minority opinion and now the majority opinion of the roberts' court between campus-based diversity, voting rights and a lot of issues. >> yes, and the things that are on the docket are astonishing, because this court will see affirmative action, and voting defense act, and equal marriage, and cherilyn, you were here last week to talk about this, and is
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there anything that you heard in what the justices were talking about that you heard that reflected this? >> well, what was important is hearing all of the justices with the exception of clarence thomas speak and sound engaged. the questions most important to me were the ones about who's job is it to declare that racial discrimination in voting has ended? the court recognizes that in some ways they have a limited role and areas in which they have an expansive role, and they get to interpret the constitution and what the constitution says, but there are certain things allocated to congress, ap one of the things allocated to congress is to enforce the right to vote. the justices are grappling with this, and the question of the power between the congress and the supreme court is one that has presidents not only for the voting rights cases, but those questions. those are the questions of greatst interest to me. >> thank you, cherilyn for
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joining us from the bridge. and not only the most recent history, but the living history in which we saw people killed for trying to just have the right to the franchise which is in fact enshrined in the constitution. thank you mayor ed pawlaskey for joining us at the table. and also, one of our famous foot soldiers are going to join aus at the table. so many more following his footsteps. there is so much more of nerdland after this. who thinks more is better than less? okay why? more is better than less because if stuff is not le-- if there is more less stuff then you might want to have some more and your parents just don't let you because there's only a little bit. right. we want more, we want more.
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to serve the military, veterans, and their families is without equal. begin your legacy. get an auto-insurance quote. usaa. we know what it means to serve. it's delicious. so now we've turned her toffee into a business. my goal was to take an idea and make it happen. i'm janet long and i formed my toffee company through legalzoom. i never really thought i would make money doing what i love. [ robert ] we created legalzoom to help people start their business and launch their dreams. go to today and make your business dream a reality. at we put the law on your side. welcome back. i'm melissa harris-perry. this has got me irritated. the magazine bluhmberg business week found itself in a racial
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pickle thursday when images of the new cover went viral and i can't imagine why the cover, as you can see, teases a story about the great american housing rebound and guess who is shown benefiting? yes, the grinning barefooted black man clutching mad loot along other assorted characters with exaggerated racial features burk i can't figure out how he has all of the money, and none to buy the shoes, but it is not a good look for business week and something they know, because the magazine did apologize on thursday for this cover. but it is not so much the grinning bug-eyed sambo with the new home, it is the lie it represent represents namely that whatever housing crisis there was, it was short lived and those are the minorities back out there making out like bandits, and we know that the rheale the ti is quite different. the subprime crisis that hit those homeowners only caused
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further systemic damage. and this week with a new study out from brandeis university underscored just how unequal things have become. tracing 1,700 households over 25 years the study found that the wealth gap between white and african-american families has widened exponentially and increasing from $85,000 in 1984 to $236,000 in 2009. this is the gap, and it is a gap that grew in that era in which the african-american grew. and including those who went off to college. what gives? the study sites education gap and unemployment and also the number which is the key one which is about how many years a household has owned a home and what kind of house it was. according to the studies' findings of all of the
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contributing factors the duration of homeownership was the wedge of all and driving the wealth gap ever higher. as the atlanta's article says that it has been a public policy for equality. joining us to break down the study is one of the primary authors and also a professor from the brandeis university tom shapiro and healther from demoes, and matthew from southern university, and james perry who is the director of the urban housing department, and i say his name that way, because he is my husband. and tom, what do you feel about this. >> well, whether it is social security or unemployment, it is
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the money basically that is money that streams in and out of the households and most of us use it for daily household use, and then most of us have debt on the credit card by the end of the month. and most of us have depth, but it is like a warehouse that we can draw upon when we need contingencies and crises, but more importantly for american society, it is the invest memen capital for our own well-being, and skill development, and buying that home and all kinds of things. >> well, it is counterintuitive that the income gap could be narrowing and more people going to college, but at the same time the wealth gap is nwiding and hw is that possible? >> that is what went to the
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heart of the study. what we looked at is the same set of families walking through the experience of american society, schools, homes, jobs, american policy. in our analysis, we were able to tear it apart and put it back together and ask what accounts for the $151,000 increase in the racial wealth gap, and indeed, we captured it through homeownership. >> that homeownership piece, and james, this is your work and the question of fair housing, and how fair housing either leads to fair or unfair outcomes. >> yes, in america, the deck has been stacked through the entirety of the process, and the result is that aftrican-americas have not had access to homeownership, and think about the concept of the health gap starts with slavery and at that point african-americans of course don't not only own property, but they are property, and white americans start owning property at the begoichk gre bhe
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great nation, so it is not until the jones versus myers lawsuit that black americans have the access as whites to own and transfer property. so it is only within a short team that blacks have been able to do that, and so that has inkreetsed the racial wealth. >> well, wealth is where it shows up in the wallet. i could go to the ivy league school, and still have no inheritance, and $15,000 from my grandparents to go to college, but it was not there and you talk about going into debt. 45 years ago was not that long ago to have the right to own and sell property, but 20 years ago did the government stop redlining whole neighborhoods
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for mortgage insurance and did private lenders stop targeting communities of colors with subprime loans? >> yes. >> and i think that the study raises provocative things for us to think about, but basically it suggests that over the last several decades there has been a stable model for wealth accumulation, and economic process for the white middle-class and upper middle-class. >> and homeownership. >> yes, a formula to go the college, and get married and buy a home and save for retirement, and what the study suggests is that all of those things combined have worked well to promote affluence among the white working class, but each one of those have been less effective for black americans, and going to college has produced lower returns and marriage returns lesser income, and so on and on and that model that we have established for the white pros pperity that has word
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well for america over the last several decades, the question is how to extend it to the broader way. >> i don't want people to miss the way you are saying that, because it is important that part of what happens when we talk about the wealth accumulation is that we assume it is about individual choices, but the choices have what is called a flatter curve, a flatter slope that it is not as steep. each year of education does not bring as much return to you and the likelihood of going from unmarried to married does not bring enough, and the reason it happens in the housing market is because black and brown bodies reduce the value of the home that they are living in? >> yes, you know in new orleans where we live segregation is a real factor and if you live in a majority of the african-american neighborhood, if you own the same home in black and white neighborhood, the black neighborhood is worth lez.
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it will impact your life as you grow up. >> as i was reading this, tom, i want people to get how intense this gap is. i looked back to look at not just race, but narrow it down and there was a recent study showing that african-american wom women, and all women of color who are unmarried the median wealth for unmarried women is $5. the cushion, the deep pond is $5. for me that was like when we know that unmarried women in communities of color are more likely to raise children, that to me told an enormous story. >> there are no deep pockets, but a mirage in the wilderness quite frankly that does not exist out there. it is a desert, and in fact for the median to be $5 and half above and half below, we are talking about 49% or so of that population living constantly in
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debt and not having an emergency fund. not being able to do anything if a crisis comes up, if the car breaks an axle in the winter, and if food runs out at the end of the month and all kinds of contingencies that cannot be met. it is a horrible situation and for me, that is what wealth speaks to. it is about the ability to move ourselves and our families and the communities forward. >> it is also expensive for government, because if people have $5 in personal wealth if you are sick or divorced or miss, you know a week of work, guess who picks that up? taxpayers. >> yes. >> and the dependency on the state is not good for anybody. not good for the individual or society to have large numbers of people dependent on the state for emergencies, but if the wealth is functionally zero, there are few alternatives to state dependency which becomes problematic, and another thing is a important that you raise, melissa, this is story not about race or black and white but
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class as well, because one of the interesting things in the study was that you found that when blacks and whites are actually starting from the same position in terms of how much wealth they have, the outcome of the additional dollars is very much more nearly equal. the problem is that race and class are so correlated that most african-americans are starting at a lower income threshold and therefore each additional dollar is thrown into immediate needs as opposed to accumulating long term wealth and capital. >> when you talk about, and we started the conversation with government, right, and the important thing is that government had an active role in creating the gap in the first place and not just the extreme circumstance of slavery, but also when it came to homeownership, there was a system to get an fha loan if you were white, but not african-american, and so the government created the gap. so when talking about fixing the gap, the government has the ability to fix the gap and through the policies that the
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government enacts, and when you say it is all about the family or what this person chooses to do or not to do, you have to ask what policy is going to be put in place to change this gap, because it helped to create it, and certainly, it can fix it. >> well, senator jeff sessions has something to say about that, and when we come back, aim going to lose my mind, because what he had to say about that was distressing and more on the claim of senator jeff sessions that had all of us in nerdland asking if the man can add. that is next. [ male announcer ] how do you measure happiness? by the armful? by the barrelful? the carful? how the bowlful? campbell's soups give you nutrition, energy, and can help you keep a healthy weight. campbell's. it's amazing what soup can do. campbell's. living with moderate to semeans living with it could also mean living with joint damage.
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republican senator jeff sessions is of alabama recently raised some eyebrows when he released a document that implied that federal benefits give low income families a higher standard of living than middle income households. and the case is welfare and sou sounds a little bit like r reagan's queen welfare myth, but this time it was statistics and here is where he got creative. here is the graphic that he posted to the budget committee oversight back in november showing that the pay per day and per hour exceeds median income. and those are getting right over you, americans, and who is helping them? the evil government. not so muchk except for the budget por priority and policies crunched the numbers saying it is deeplyly flawed saying that
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overstates the assistance that poor households receive like nursing homes and welfare and this is a taste of what is wrong with sessions, and what he is saying. how can we attack the problem of poverty seriously if people like the senator are going to inflate the stats to fit their argument? how do we take this seriously? i am here look at the study and longitudinal and sessions says, no, too much to the poor. >> can i say so many problems that went about this, and it is important to dig into it, because it is shocking and a total mean on the right and you have talk radio doing it, and i said about poverty on twitter the other day, and it is payments to welfare and part of the problem is the definition of welfare. and half of it is medicare which half of it goes to payments of
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hospitals and doctors and providers go to end of life care for very sick and dying middle income people who shield or spend down their assets to be able to afford long term care, because we don't have a system in this country, but when it come air pairs to the average income, it does not say that sponer soed health care is part of the average income, and the money to the schools and the communities on the average middle-class sort of side is part of that. it also does a ridiculous thing where it counts the programs that go to people above the poverty line and then puts the denominator only below the poverty line. and finally, it creates a lie that we have an incredibly welfare state which is an important undercurrent of the war or government and the deficit hysteria, because if the government does not mean faa and food inspection s s to people, big gilded checks going to undeserving people, then yeah, i might be more supportive of the
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radical anti-government agenda, but when people under the po poverty line receive means tested benefits, it still does not let them crest above the poverty line. >> and not close to the poverty line and even when we look at the things that are close, and tiaff has been closed since 1986, and part of what is going on there is that wages have decreased. and part of the reason he is able to show that is because in fact the working poor are the working poor and that is not an indication that we are generous, but it is an indication that we are not generous. >> right. part of it goes back to the bloomberg cover where you have the same mean being run out where it is people greedy for stuff. >> yes. >> and getting more stuff. but here's a little bit of perspective because annually in the united states we spend $4 billion investing in individual wealth creation, and the huge majority of that goes to the top
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1% and 5% and mostly in the form of mortgage interest deduction and pension policy. in fact, if budgets really reflect priorities, we spend more money in the united states subsidizing homeownership for the middle-class and the well to do than we do for the people who are poor and need shelter. >> well, that is right. first of all, i will say that i am profoundly shocked that a politician in washington would use misleading statistics to advance a talking point, and that is shocking, and neither the liberals nor the conservatives ever use bogus figures. >> and it is hard to teach that at the college level, because students say facts can say anything. but that is true. >> and on this particular question, the point that you made is exactly right that if we are going to seriously look at concerns about fiscal discipline and concerns about the deficit, we have a tendency to focus
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whether we are on the left or the right, and either on the poor and the wealthy as the people who are the problem. those are not the problem. honestly where we are spending money is on massive middle-class entitlements, social security and medicare predominantly benefit middle-class people and they are good programs that ser ave good purpose, but the fact that people on welfare are sucking up the money is not true. it is a fant city. it is not the poor -- >> it is the old. >> well, it is not just the poor, and the old, but that is where the money is in terms of government spending is for entitlement programs that will benefit middle-class people. >> it is tough to build a political coalition against the old, but it is easier to build a coalition against the poor. >> well, i will say that even if you look at sessions' numbers from his perspective, the message is senator, do your job,
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because we need more jobs. ultimately if he is right, then it means that congress should be working to make sure that there are more job opportunities, and therefore increasing the opportunities for middle-class. but they are not doing that. they are entering into the sequester to ensure fewer opportunities. >> talk about the sequester, because it feels not only fewer job opportunities, but the discussion just before the break, you cannot earn your way out of the wealth gap, and you can close the gap with the income earnings, but not out of the wealth gap. what kind of policy can we talk about that is politically feasible that can in fact move us toward narrowing the wealth gap and not just making the people of the top floor. >> well, anything is politically feasible, but it takes time to change the conversation about the issues. and i want you to know that i'm a defendant and supporter of the low income housing trust fund and this is an idea that we have talked about on the show, that ends homelessness in a period of
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5 to 10 years if it were fully funded. the policy is out there, and the opportunity out there, and you think big, but you can't start with the decision that individuals are making bad decisions. the president gets a bad rap on a lot of the things that he does, but he is taking steps to move some of the systemic issues. for instance the department of hud put out a disparate rule that means that you don't have to have intentional discrimination to prove in court that it is happening, but instead, system is s thes that t mean to discriminate that harm people, and that is what happening in the housing market right now. >> yes, because housing and race are so connected. we will stay on this, and i have to tell you, if you thought they was mad at scalia or sessions? well, wait until i tell you about the folks at indiana. thu etting rid of dark spots will restore even skin tone? think again. introducing olay professional even skin tone. developed by experts in skin genomics to target 5 major causes of uneven skin tone
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governor rick scott took office and made drug testing welfare recipients a thing, and any and all florida residents receiving benefits from temporary benefits and families would have the privilege of urinating in a cup because of scorick scott. but now in alabama, the idea of testing welfare recipients is still catching on. so now we have in indiana a propo proposal to order people to have written drug tests pass ed ed be house of representatives so they know that you are not allowed to take the urinalysis so they will ask you, do you need a drink to steady your nerves in the morning and that is about to be
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the answer yes for me if i keep dealing with this. seriously, this feels like intrusive in a level that is appalling, and it is all about these unworthy poor people. >> and it should not be difficult to pass an exam that says, are you on crack? you could say no, and that qualifies you. >> but i work for the government. >> and the idea is that the written drug test is somewhat absurd. >> well, so the written test and this idea if we were to talk about in part going to your idea of so many of the government benefits are invisible, right? so should students at a state university before they can enroll for school have to take a drug test at the beginning of every single semester, because they are getting state benefits, and should seniors have to take a drug test before they get their medicare. >> well, most of the students would not qualify and it would be the end of college. >> yes, in america. >> and it would shut down the whole louisiana state university
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system. >> and seriously, if you are under 21 and even alcohol in your system. >> i am a graduate of louisiana state university and i resent that, because i do not believe that every student at louisiana state university would fail a drug test. i must say. >> well, they are filling the classrooms. >> but, look at how we embed these invisible changes in our lives all of the time. and we are beginning to expect that for the so-called welfare clients, but last year we passed the estate tax that exempts $5 million from any taxation to what else? index it to inflation. minimum wage is an index to inflation, and food stamp money and stamp money and nothing else other than security benefits except for the wealthy, we will index for inflation. >> and they are going to have a tiny amount, but it will benefit
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exponentially the amount of wealth concentrated in the few families who have actually the inher tenss and the s and th inheritance? >> well, maybe we should tax them before they get their inheritance. >> well, it is going to back to the idea that we are giving too much money to the unworthy poor. >> yes, that is ridiculous, because 70% of low income families are working. since the reform of welfare and the ending of welfare as we knew nit 1996, we have seen a time when again flu the fault of, you know, a deregulated wall street, we have an incredible amount of pain in the country and increase in poverty and now 2 of 4 people do not get any kind of cash assistance, and there is also a real fallacy that has been promulgated since the 1980s when our friend justice roberts was working the try to dismantle civil rights from inside of the
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d.o.j. and i had to add that piece of history, we have seen an idea that equates welfare with color. it is simply not true. the first welfare that we ever had in the new deal was expressively written with social security to not actually include people of coer lo, because it was not eligible, and you were not eligible if you were a domestic worker or farm worker and who is that? when we finally took the racism out of the welfare state of the country with the great society, then you started to see the incredible backlash, but "the new york times" reported that actually, we are seeing a reversal and return back to the racial skewing of the welfare state, and the fact that 22% of african-americans are poor, but only there are only 14% of beneficiarie beneficiaries. 42%, sorry, white americans are 42% of the poor, but receive 69% of the benefits. but if you ask most people listening to talk radio, who is
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going to be drug test susceptible, it is not the white american. >> okay. and james, i want to give you the last word, because it keeps our marriage healthy. and i want to know, how do we then push back on the notion that poverty and rate is sitting together like that, because it feels like to me when jeff sessions who is from alabama which is the 46th state on poverty and extremely poor state can make these kinds of statements about poverty, it is because of an assumption of people of color. >> well, there is a lot of work to be done, and the first work is really making sure that everybody is clear what the problem is. this study goes a long way in doing that, but the second is that we have to stay strong in litigating the issues, because for the most part the changes in civil rights law over the last several decades, it comes from litigation. that is the opportunity on the small scale to change what is happening on the systemic basis. >> so even though i'm terrified of the supreme courts, we keep fighting.
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thank you, mr. perry. i will see you later after the show. and the rest of you are coming back. and how michael bloomberg is building himself a little political army. [ sniffs ] [ sneezes ] [ sniffles ] [ female announcer ] for everything your face has to face. face it with puffs facial tissues. puffs has air-fluffed pillows for 40% more cushiony thickness. face every day with puffs softness. it fills you with energy... and it gives you what you are looking for to live a more natural life. in a convenient two bar pack. this is nature valley. nature at its most delicious. none of us think bad things are gonna happen to us. i'm here at my house on thanksgiving day, and i have a massive heart attack right in my driveway. an artery in your heart, it's called the widow maker. and mine was 95% blocked. they took me to the hospital, and the doctor put me on a bayer aspirin regimen.
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tuesday, the race to fill an illinois house seat vacated by jesse jackson, jr. made headlines. the winner of the democratic primary robert kelly became a political star overnight and not just because she won, but how she won. the gun control advocate state representative came from behind to beat former congressman debbie halverson who was backed by the nra. and kelly's past runs right through new york city, and thanks to the city's mayor and avid gun control advocate.
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the billionaire spent $2 million of his own money to attack kelly's foe. and be assured that that his was not the only money, but it is him positioning himself to the counterweight of the political juggernaut which is the nra. his super pac has become involved in eight state and congressional races since the creation late year, and five of the candidates he backed also supporters of gun control won. kelly understands that the bloomberg support is not really about him. >> he didn't do it on my behalf. i look at it that he did it on behalf of the families around the country. >> that is a lot of praise which is certainly better than things that the last congressman who vacated the seat in illinois was buying with his campaign contributions. yes, i am looking at you jesse,
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jr., but as much as progressives may be enthusiastic of what is a good billionaire with a super pac countering the influence of bad billionaires with super pacs. let me encourage everybody to pause for a moment, because a he healthy democracy is not for sale. even if you like the guy who is buying. up next, the scathing report that proves that the wealthy really are stacking the deck. a? by the barrelful? the carful? how the bowlful? campbell's soups give you nutrition, energy, and can help you keep a healthy weight. campbell's. it's amazing what soup can do. campbell's. exciting and would always come max and pto my rescue. bookstore but as time passed, i started to notice max just wasn't himself. and i knew he'd feel better if he lost a little weight. so i switched to purina cat chow healthy weight formula. i just fed the recommended amount... and they both loved the taste.
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so now we've turned her toffee into a business. my goal was to take an idea and make it happen. i'm janet long and i formed my toffee company through legalzoom. i never really thought i would make money doing what i love. [ robert ] we created legalzoom to help people start their business and launch their dreams. go to today and make your business dream a reality. at we put the law on your side. the title says it all, stacked deck. the dominance of politic by the after flu -- affluent and business undermine the economy of the united states, and that is a study put out by demoes. amy walker is back with us from the cook report, and first i want to turn to the vice
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president of policy and outreach for demoes heather mcgee, and all right, there is your report, and it turns out that some things apparently are for sale and potentially set government and we know who is buying it. >> yes. we went to look at this question of how it is that something that we have certainly kind of taken for granted now which is the dominance of the politics by the very wealthy, by the mi millionaires and the billionaires who have make up a majority of the cal pain spend big less than 1% who are giving to the campaigns and setting the rules and deciding who can win elections. how does that effect our encoemy? to look at that to unpack it is a lot of political science research that has shown recently that there is a big difference of the way in which particular think wealthy and the rest of the country think not just about climate change or gun control as mayor bloomberg gives you an example of, but it is questions down to the way that the economy is structured and that is where you will see the biggest difference. so, for example, the vast majority of americans believe that no full time worker should work full time and stay in
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poverty. minimum wage should prevent that. among the wealthy and the donor class, they agree with that. where are we now? in a place where somebody can work full time and still be in poverty. >> so in a certain way the results of the study are not shocking. oh, the wealthy have more influence in politics, really, that is is in and of itself is not shocking. what does feel like a thing that is surprising maybe is the extent to which the interests of the wealthy are mirrored in the policies of the government. it always felt like you would have the people or you would have money and put the people power gaiagainst the money powe and there would be different currencies that you could spend and now there is only one curre currency that you can spend. >> i want to keep beating this horse about polarization, but i want to go to the primaries for one second, because we talked
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about the donor class, and the poor, and we talked about who elect these people. the conservative republicans can make it through a republican primary, and the liberal democrats can make it through, and the people they talk to are a smaller class than the donor class, and the people that are -- >> and where the liberal democrats? >> they rare up there, but ther is a feedback, because if you talk to the members of congress, they will say, i don't know what you are talking about because everybody says that the deficit is the number one issue. >> well, they are not talking to the voters, but the people they spent one of three minutes to which is the call list. and the problem is that it is shown up in the policy outcomes and take for example the capital gains rate which you can compare to minimum wage. there is a princeton professor -- >> marty gillins. >> well, this is bartel.
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but the distribution has no impact on the behavior of the elected officials and take that and think of the minimum wage and now look at the donor match and how it impacts those who get a income tax cut, and we have not been able to increase the capital gains and the minimum wage. >> well, there is a real influence of policy by the donor class. and there are other areas where the donor class has been thwarted in the practices. >> the 2012 presidential election. >> yes, right. also, one of the real priorities of the donor class is deficit reduction and we haven't seen a lot of deficit reduction. >> oh, i beg to differ, because we have seen $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction and the deficit reduction completely take away from the political response to the 25 million
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americans who don't have enough or any work. that is actually a really great example of the difference of the donor class and the rest of ameri america. >> well, i don't believe that anybody would say that we are on a trajectory to the balanced budget where the donor class would like us to be, but we are not. also, the donor class favors liberal policies like gun control. we don't have gun control happening in the country, because of the interests on the other side. there are cases where they are successfulf and some where they are not. you made an excellent point about how it is in primaries where the money can show up and have a huge effect, because primaries are case where is the candidates don't start out with name recognition. >> and greg, i guess what i take issue with is the idea that it is polarization from both sides and the very conservative and the very liberal and mostly, because when we look at how the voting has turned out in congress and even looking at president obama on the one hand,
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and we have the thwarting of one aspect of the bad billionaires, but the fact is that he had an enormous amount of money thwarted into the campaign and those interests do seem to cross party ideology whether at the top or the democrats or the republicans or the liberals or the conservatives to shore up the economic benefits. >> yes, you will see that in fact that some of the differences in terms of the social issues do fade away when you get to the economic. there is an economic consensus that even more progressive or more progressive wealthy americans actually will not actually feel like corporate regulation is a good idea even though they may favor marriage equality for gay americans. >> and the other thing of the report that is interesting, and i think it goes to the point in some ways about the primaries as well is the dropoff in participation rate in terms of who is voting and who is not. and the people who have wealth are voting more than people who don't. when i say this is who they are
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hearing from, they go to the town hall meetings, and the people who are showing up at the town hall meetings are not the people who are working or i thought about this at my son's school event, and i knew that everybody there had to have child care and i thought, these are faces who can afford child care, right. and those are the people who show up, and when the representatives come home and i was just at five town hall meetings, and this is what everybody told me, because they are the people who can show up on a wednesday afternoon. >> and even participation cost, because there is a way that the wealth gap costs. so thank you to everybody. tom, an matt and ammy and i feel like romper room. but it is first time for a preview with alex witt. >> well, this is one strange and tragic story, everyone. coming out of florida where a sinkhole apparently swept a man to his death.
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we are getting more information. and march madness d.c. style, which state is hit with the most sequestration cuts. and what date will congress stop the process. and this is really a fight in 33 years of making and one about the iran hostages and those held captive for 444 days, and you will hear about their new fight. and ben jelous joins us to talk about the supreme court and the voting rights. >> it is a busy week in politics. >> yes. >> thank you, alex. and up next, ben simon our foot so soldier is here live and changing lives every night. it is the one person i am not mad at today on the show, ben simon. eucerin professional repair moisturizes while actually repairing very dry skin. the end of trial and error has arrived. try a free sample at [ angry gibberish ]
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every week we close out our saturday show with a segment we call foot soldiers. we use the space to highlight individuals or small groups that are out there finding new ways to create change and empower
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others in their own communities. five weeks ago, we brought you the story of ben simon, a senior at the university of maryland college park. ben found a way, through the volunteer power of students, to donate unsold food from his campus dining hall to food banks and shelters in his community. what started in one university soon expanded to 13 campuses around the country. thanks to ben and his friends. and so much has happened to ben and his organization, the food recovery network since we named them our foot soldiers that week that we decided to bring ben in to tell us all about it. hi, ben. the so nice to have you here. >> thank you so much for having me. >> what's been going on the past five weeks? ? we've had a really exciting past five weeks. thank you so much for the exposure. it was our first national tv coverage and we got an amazing outpouring of support from your views. within a week we had 30 to 40 new chapter applications. that's students who applied to start a food recovery network
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chapter at their college campus. so we got a lot of donations. our facebook page blew up. it was crazy. hitting refresh and having like 200 more likes after like a minute. it was crazy. and just a lot of love. people saying finally you guys are doing something like this. this is amazing. >> one of the things that we loved about what you're doing is that you actually did the research to find out the law that is made it possible. >> right. >> because as you said to us previously, people think they can't. so why is it that people can in fact do something like the food recovery network? >> it's very true. this is a huge issue. misinformation. and people the dining managers and the restaurant managers, grocery store managers, people who are in charge of making that decision whether or not to give the food away or to throw the food away really are widely unaware of this act called the bill emmerson good samaritan act. it's a ball passed in 1996 signed into law by bill clinton.
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to provides nearly blanket protection for all food donors donating food to somebody in their community. >> that is pretty astonishing. we have a choice in baz, in a university, not to throw away the unused food but instead to redistribute it. if i'm at a university, if i didn't see it the first time and i'm thinking i want to do that what's the process other than liking you on the facebook page? >> have them get in touch with us. anybody can shoot an e-mail to food but usually the new chapter process starts with students. it can start with the dining hall managers. that's great, too. but typically we have to find a group or four or five committed students who get in touch with us. we send them what's called a new chapter tool kit. basically through a series of weekly conference calls coach them through starting a new chapter. >> you guys are building out from a campus totally volunteer organization into something else. what is it? >> so that's absolutely right. so we started in september 2011
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at the university of maryland college park. we're now at actually 18 different college campuses. and that's actually a huge announcement they didn't get a chance to mention was that in the past five weeks since that coverage we've been able to start five new chapters. that's like a chapter a week. so we're really really having incredible explosive growth. and what we realize is that we needed to do this full time. this is an amazing amazing thing that needs to exist. we can't keep wasting all this food. so currently we have a national leadership team of about eight students at different college campuses working about anywhere from 5 to 20 hours a week just volunteering on the project to make it happen. but we're fundraising right now for our first full time budget and professionalizing the non-profit profit to go full time. >> now you're going to do good, in a way that brings in volunteers, people in the community, but you're also going to become job creator, right? >> exactly. >> that's pretty extraordinary. in fact it makes me want to introduce you to msnbc's
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president phil griffin. because we have one of the things we're very proud of here at 30 rock is the new nbc universal dining hall. i got me to thinking i wonder what's going on with our food upstairs. >> if you haven't heard of something chances are you guys are probably throwing out your extra food at the end of the day. we would love to help you out. >> yeah. maybe you and phil could have a conversation later. thank you to ben simon. the work you're doing is extraordinary. i love the idea of a chapter a week. that will be 52 by the end of the year. that's a great thing. that's our show for today. thanks to you at home for watching. by the way a very happy birthday to michelle's mom marie. i will be back tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. eastern when we dive deep into corporate greed. that's right, the bp trial. and i got one more little angry rant. you know that c word tweet that rocked the world on oscar nights? i got something to say about that. coming up, "weekends with alex witt." [ male announcer ] this is the opposite of subliminal advertising...
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